FIFA World Cup 2010 Referee Controversy: Can Instant Replay Fix the Problem?

Phil DeHavenCorrespondent IJune 21, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 20: The referee and asistants stand beside the Jabulani match ball prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between Brazil and Ivory Coast at Soccer City Stadium on June 20, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

Recently, the FIFA World Cup in South Africa has been making headlines for the wrong reasons. So far in the tournament, officiating has been a serious problem and has created a lot of uproar from some of the teams.

Many of you will remember the mysterious unknown call against the USA in the 85th minute, preventing Maurice Edu from scoring (what would have been) the game winning goal against Slovenia on Friday. On that play, it was evident that there was absolutely no offsides and if anything, Michael Bradley was fouled inside the penalty area.

Controversy struck again today in the Brazil-Ivory Coast game when with just three minutes remaining, Keita ran into Kaka. Keita fell to the ground then got back up and had some words (along with some pushing and shoving) with Kaka. When the referee sorted everything out, he gave Kaka a second yellow card and the preceding red card.

In both of these games, the referees had way too much of an impact on the game. The referees did not allow the players to play on when they could and did not control the game when they needed to. They lost control of the game and as a result, five yellow cards and one red card was issued during the Brazil-Ivory Coast game alone. Luckily, Brazil are already set to advance to the next round because Kaka will be suspended now for their next game.

Unfortunately in the USA-Slovenia game, referee Koman Coulibaly ultimately prevented the USA from making a historic comeback and cost the USA valuable points.

Many articles that have been written about the World Cup have mentioned instant replay. Whenever instant replay is used in sports, people must remember that human error is a part of every sport and that in every sport that is considering or using instant replay, it is used only when necessary so that it does not ruin the "flow" or thrill of the game.

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If instant replay in World Cup soccer is used, what would it be used on?

If we used it on fouls, how would the referees decide when to use replay? Fouls occur frequently in a game and the problem with allowing instant replay on fouls is that it would kill the flow of the game and it would more than likely be used way too many times. Advantage is a huge part of soccer and if every foul was called, the integrity of the game would be ruined.

The one thing that many people who have never refereed a soccer game do not understand is that fouls are called on opinion. There is no way that everyone in the world will agree on every decision the referee makes because everyone's definition of what is/isn't a foul is different. Some people need to learn that fouls are called solely on the opinion of the head referee and that there is no such thing as a clear cut foul.

If it was used for offsides, it would not be a terrible idea, but again, how do you decide which plays to use it on if offsides occur frequently throughout a game? If replay were to be used for offsides, it would be a major insult to the assistant referees who honestly have done a great job in this tournament.

The only time I would consider allowing the use of instant replay for soccer is for goals. Very rarely in International soccer will you see controversial calls regarding shots that have not possibly crossed the entire goal line, but every now and then it does happen.

Remember in the 2006 World Cup Final in Germany?

France's Zidadine Zidane took a penalty kick that hit off the bottom of the crossbar and narrowly crossed entirely over the goal line for a goal. Lucky for the referees, it was a penalty kick and they were able to have a clear look as to if the entire ball crossed over the line because if Zidane had taken a shot in play, the referees could have possibly ruled that it wasn't a goal.

Let's face it soccer fans, human error is a part of soccer and has always been a part of soccer. It is one thing that makes our sport different from every other sport. These referees are under a lot of pressure and many people do not realize how tough it is to be a referee at any level of soccer.

Yes I agree that the mistakes the referees have made are unacceptable, but there are still some very good referees that are officiating in this year's World Cup. It is a shame because the only time referees are mentioned is when they do a poor job. For all referees, silence usually means they did a good job.